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Live Spot Prices:

Spot Prices:
Gold Ask 1,297.10 0.05 Open: 1,297 High: 1,300 Low: 1,284
Silver Ask 17.39 -0.02 Open: 17.41 High: 17.46 Low: 17.11

Certified Gold Coins

Gold coins formed the backbone of human currency for centuries prior to the establishment of modern banking systems and fiat currency. When nothing else had value, gold was the currency that moved the world forward. Today, gold is no longer used as a fiat currency, but it still retains immense value to investors and collectors as a means of protecting wealth against the ups and downs of the modern market economy.

Certified gold coins bring their own unique value to the table for numismatists. Beyond the inherent value of the gold contained within the metal content of a coin, certification brings recognition to the unique status and quality of a particular gold coin. JM Bullion proudly offers its customers a variety of certified gold coins for sale online, including many of the following options.

The History of Certification

Also known as grading, certification is a process of identifying the exact value of a gold coin by taking into consideration its legitimate status, its rarity, and the condition of the coin. Certification from the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service, the world’s preeminent authorities on coin certification, adds inherent value to the silver coins you are considering purchasing. For those who are new to the precious metals industry, Certified Gold Coins often come with terms that are unfamiliar. In the following paragraphs you’ll find all the information you need to decipher the terminology and value of coins that have received certification before you make the choice to buy gold.

A History of Coin Certification

Before the NGC and PCGS formed formal certification process, it was generally agreed upon that physical condition, or grade, of the coin was important to the value. However, there was not a universal system for grading or even a universal standard that could be applied. Prior to the 1980s, rare coin collectors had only three broad categories to place coins into based upon their condition. These included:

  • Good: to qualify, these coins had to maintain most of the details of the design intact.
  • Fine: to qualify, these coins had to exhibit clear detail and some of its luster on the surfaces.
  • Uncirculated: to qualify, these coins should never have been in general circulation and still exhibit their full mint state condition.

The problem that was created by this system of definitions is that collectors and dealers eventually realized that some Fine coins, for example, were finer than others. In 1948, renowned numismatist Dr. William Sheldon had developed a scale for assigning grades between 1 and 70 to coins. In theory, his Sheldon Scale posited that a grade 70 coin was worth 70 times the value of a grade 1.

In refining the Sheldon Scale and applying it to modern NGC and PCGS Certified Gold Coins, the two certification houses found that many buyers were often taken advantage of because of the difficulty in telling the difference between coins of the same category. For example, a Mint State 65 coin has a market value (in most cases) that is greater than the same coin with a Mint State 64 coin, but the differences are nearly undetectable by an untrained eye.

Today, the NGC and PCGS use the 1 to 70 Sheldon Scale to certify the condition of all coins it grades. Each grade starts with a strike type, which includes the following options:

  • MS: Stands for Mint State, and identifies a coin struck in the same format as circulation issues and applies to grades 60 through 70.
  • PF/PR: Stands for Proof, and identifies coins struck in a special format to attract the eye of collectors.
  • SP: A Specimen coin is one that has a hybrid strike type between Mint State and Proof.

Each of the different certification levels indicates a different level of wear and tear, or conversely perfection, to the coin’s surface, design features, and markings. The most common Certified Gold Coins you’ll find in the JM Bullion catalog include many of the following designations for both bullion and proof options:

  • Mint State/Proof (PF/PR) 70: These coins are considered perfect specimens with no post-production imperfections when viewed under 5x magnification, and include their full, original mint luster.
  • Mint State/Proof (PF/PR) 69: These are considered near-perfect coins with nearly imperceptible imperfections. Though they maintain full, original mint luster, there are a maximum of two minor imperfections on the coin such as miniscule hairlines.
  • DCAM/UCAM: Deep Cameo or Ultra-cameo is a term reserved only for proof Certified Gold Coins. These terms refer to a proof specimen that has a strong, frosted finish on the design set with a contrasting deeply-mirrored, clear background field. This effect gives the impression that the design is floating above the surface area of the coin.
  • FS/ER: Short for First Strike or Early Release, these designations are used for coins that arrive at the PCGS or NGC depository or approved third-party depository within the first 30 days of the release date set by the production mint for a given coin. These coins ship with special First Strike or Early Release Labels courtesy of the PCGS/NGC.

Background on the NGC and PCGS

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, or NGC for short, was founded in 1987 as a third-party coin grading service that is independent of any private or sovereign mint. Currently, the NGC employs 30 full-time coin certifiers who are prohibited by contract from buying or selling coins commercially to ensure they remain impartial graders of coins. The NGC holds the distinction of being the world’s largest third-party coin grading company, having certified more than 33 million coins in total. The American Numismatic Association and Professional Numismatists Guild both use the NGC as their official grading service.

The Professional Coin Grading Service was formed by a small group of the nation’s leading coin experts in 1985 following the realization that the rare coin industry needed to address problems in the verification of coins in order for the hobby of coin collecting and investing to truly reach new heights. Prior to the formation of the PCGS, market participants were forced to assess the value of rare coins using divergent definitions of what precisely qualified as valuable.

The PCGS use of the Sheldon Scale in assigning grades to PCGS Certified American Silver Eagles and other coins helps investors and collectors rest assured that the coins they are purchase meet the standards and grading requirements of a coin of that particular grade. The PCGS stands behind its certifications, offering the following guarantee on its website:

“The PCGS Guarantee of Grade and Authenticity is fundamental to our concept of third-party grading. The cash-back policy ensures the accuracy of the grade assigned to any PCGS coin as long as it remains in its tamper-evident holder. As the owner of a PCGS-graded coin, the customer will have the benefit of PCGS’s Guarantee of Grading Accuracy and Authenticity and each PCGS Authorized Dealer will accept the grades assigned to the coins by PCGS.”

Both certification houses use a similar process in grading gold coins before certification is awarded to a specimen. Generally speaking, a three-step process is used that entails the following:

  • Receiving Coins: The NGC’s receiving department accepts coins from authorized dealers and collectors alike, and opens new shipments every morning. These coins are verified by number according to the packaging invoices, and then a detailed comparison process takes place to ensure the date marks, denominations, and mint marks match up to the actual coins.
  • Grading Coins: The NGC uses a collaborative team effort to grade each of the coins it receives. Coins that include various designations are examined by NGC numismatists who specialize in those various attributions and designations. Each is compared individual against published references, and appropriate descriptions and numbers are added to the record as necessary. From there, at least two numismatists grade every coin, and when necessary supplemental information is added to provide the most thorough description of the coin’s condition.
  • Encapsulation Process: After coins are graded by the NGC, all certified coins are taken to the encapsulation department where labels are printed to identify the condition and designation of each coin, and the product is encapsulated in a transparent plastic shell to protect the condition of the coin for decades to come.

Certified Gold Coin Examples

JM Bullion has a catalog of certified gold coins for you to select from as you look to add to your collection or investments. The vast majority of the gold coins in stock with certification come from the American Gold Eagle, American Gold Buffalo, or Pre-1933 US Gold coin collection in our warehouses. You can learn more about each in the following sections.

American Gold Eagle Certified Coins

American Gold Eagle Coins were authorized for production by the United States Congress with passage of the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985. Under the terms of legislation, the program was to contain four different weights in total (1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz) and include two different versions initially (bullion and proof). Congress set the face value for the coins as is standard practice with any legal tender issued by the United States Mint.

The first American Gold Eagle coins were produced and made available for purchase in 1986. The bullion gold coin program was immediately available with all four weights, while the proof version of the coin featured only a 1 oz coin in 1986. The proof program expanded to include the ½ oz weight in 1987, and the ¼ oz and 1/10 oz coins in 1988.

For the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle coin series, which includes the Silver Eagle, in 2006, the United States Mint introduced a new burnished version of the coin. The Burnished American Gold Eagle was introduced specifically for coin collectors. Although the United States Mint already had the proof version of the Gold Eagle available for collectors, the burnished version of the coin had a unique minting process that gave it enhanced value for those numismatists interested in the display and exhibition of visually brilliant coins.

The United States Mint chose a historic American coinage design for the American Gold Eagle. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was hand-picked by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to help revitalize US gold coinage with a brilliant new design.

Saint-Gaudens crowning achievement was the Lady Liberty design that features Liberty in full-length figure, her hair and robe flowing freely in the breeze as she strides forward confidently from the nation’s capital. In her right and left hand are a torch for light, and an olive branch signifying peace; all the things she’ll need to guide the nation toward a peaceful, if unknown, future.

His original design was used on the $20 Gold Double Eagle coin. In circulation from 1907 to 1933, it is considered the finest design on the greatest coin in American history. Saint-Gaudens himself never lived to see his design come to fruition on an American coin though, passing away due to complications from illness just months before the coins were released in 1907.

In Saint-Gaudens’ original design, Liberty was featured striding forward with the US Capitol Building at her feet, the rays of the setting sun at her back, and 46 stars surrounding her along the coin’s rim. In 1912, Congress authorized the addition of two stars to his design to recognize the addition of New Mexico and Arizona to the Union. In order for the image to be used on the American Gold Eagle, two stars were added to recognize the post-World War II addition of Hawaii and Alaska to the Union.

The reverse side of the coin features a family of nesting bald eagles, and was designed by Miley Busiek. In the image, a male bald eagle returns to the nest with branches in its talons. In the nest, a female is depicted standing vigilant guard over the young hatchlings in the nest. Busiek’s design was created in 1986, and is used exclusively on the American Gold Eagle.

American Gold Buffalo Certified Coins

The United States Mint unveiled the American Gold Buffalo bullion coin in 2006, featuring the historic Buffalo Nickel design from James Earle Fraser and a gold content of .9999 fineness. The American Gold Buffalo was the first-ever coin from the US Mint to feature 24-karat gold, and in 2016 the mint celebrated the 10th anniversary of this highly coveted bullion coin.

James Earle Fraser was commissioned by the administration of William Howard Taft in 1911 to create a design to replace the Liberty Head design from Charles E. Barber on the US nickel. A resident of the American Midwest, born and raised in Winona, Minnesota, Fraser was accustomed to life on the American Plains. He used images from his youth as inspiration for the coin design that would eventually grace the Buffalo Nickel.

Black Diamond, a resident bison of New York City’s Central Park Zoo was the inspiration behind his buffalo design, which features on the reverse of both the Buffalo Nickel and the modern American Gold Buffalo.

For the obverse, he used the right-profile of an American Indian as the primary design. It did not represent one individual, but rather a compilation of the facial features taken from three real-life Native American leaders. The identity of those men was shrouded in mystery for years, but in 1938 he stated that the inspirational figures had been Iron Tail of the Sioux, Big Tree of the Kiowa, and Two Moons of the Cheyenne.

The Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Saving Act became law in the US on December 4, 2015. In addition to provisions impacting the American Gold and American Silver Eagle coins, the law set forth provisions to establish the American Gold Buffalo as the permanent .9999 fine gold bullion coin of the United States, meaning its annual production is all-but guaranteed following its 10th anniversary.

Pre-1933 US Certified Gold Coins

During the 1930s the United States was in the grip of the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt has just taken office, and in a bid to stem the economic brutality of the Great Depression and the banking crisis engulfing the nation, two provisions were enacted by the federal government.

For starters, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 ordering “all persons” to deliver gold coins, bullion, and certificates to the Federal Reserve banking system by May 1, 1933. An additional act occurred one year later when Congress authorized the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, outlawing the circulation and private possession of United States gold coins.

Today, remaining gold coins struck by the United States Mint before 1933 are extremely rare in some cases, and incredibly valuable. A certified gold coin from this timeframe can bring with it a great deal of value to collectors or investors. Among the JM Bullion catalog you’ll find the following examples of Pre-1933 US Certified Gold Coins:

  • Liberty Gold Eagle: The Liberty Gold Double Eagle Coin was the first of its kind in the United States. When the US Mint released these coins in 1850, it marked the first-ever striking of a gold coin with a $20 (USD) face value. James B. Longacre designed the obverse and reverse of the Liberty Gold Double Eagle coin, which was available from 1850 until 1907, when it was replaced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ image of Liberty on the obverse and a new reverse depiction of the American bald eagle. All American gold coins were collected and melted down starting in 1933 to supply American gold bars during the Great Depression. On the obverse of the coin is the left-profile portrait of Liberty in the Greco-Roman style, with 13 stars surrounding her head and the year of issue below. On the reverse is the Great Seal of the United States of America, complete with an engraving of “United States of America” above and the face value below. Face value engravings differ, with 1849-1866 coins listed as “twenty D” and 1867-1907 coins listed as “twenty dollars.”
  • Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle: In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt personally met with Irish-born artist and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to ask for his help redesigning American gold coins. The depiction of Lady Liberty that Saint-Gaudens developed and refined in 1907-1908 first appeared on the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle between 1907 and 1933. However, his original design was meant to be featured on a high-relief coin. The United States Mint did not possess the technology at the time to realize his vision. Saint-Gaudens’ image of Liberty depicts her in full-figure as she walks forward from the national capital holding her torch aloft. Visible in the design is the US Capitol Building at Liberty’s feet, with 48 stars surrounding Liberty’s image. When Saint-Gaudens designed this coin originally, it included only 46 stars, but in 1912 the addition of Arizona and New Mexico to the Union required the addition of two stars to the design. On the reverse of all $20 Gold Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Coins is an American bald eagle soaring above the rays of the sun, with the words “United States of America” engraved above it, along with the face value of the coin.

Purchasing Certified Gold Coins from JM Bullion

When you decide on a certified gold coin from JM Bullion, you’ll find that we proudly accept a variety of payment methods for the coins you purchase. We accept most major credit/debit cards, with an average one-business-day processing time. Bank wire and PayPal transactions are processed immediately, releasing your coins into our shipping queue the fastest. Paper check payments are accepted, but take an average of four to six business days to process. Both paper check and bank wire transactions quality for a 4% discount.

All JM Bullion shipments qualify for free shipping and insurance. We package all products in discreet boxes to protect the identity of your shipment. All packages are sent out via UPS or the US Postal Service, with expedited shipping available from both carriers with an additional fee. If your shipment is lost or stolen, we’ll work to provide you with a replacement product (if possible) or a refund of your purchase price.

If you have any questions about our certified gold coins, don’t hesitate to reach out to JM Bullion. Our associates are available on the phone at 800-276-6508, online using our live web chat feature, or via email. On our website you’ll also find the price of gold and silver updated live throughout the day!